Leader 120 FPV Racer - "Ahead of the rest" or "far behind?" (review work in progress) - RC Groups
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Aug 11, 2017, 02:51 PM
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Mini-Review

Leader 120 FPV Racer - "Ahead of the rest" or "far behind?" (review work in progress)


These small low budget FPV racers keep getting better, but while one has a better camera, but may be lacking in flight time, another one has a good camera and good flight time, but maybe a low range VTX, etc. Some models get close, but none has been perfect right out of the box, so it seems. Now with a quadcopter called "Leader 120" surely it has to be ahead of all previous efforts, right? Let's see if it really is...


Note!: As of around september 2017 the Leader 120 is getting fitted with different motors, totally black, and marked "SZ-Speed" or "Full Speed RC". First reports seem to indicate these motors don't need a increased Digital Idle setting to prevent the Flip of Death issue, that some got with the first produced units.




Disclaimer: I don't get paid, or in any other way make money with reviews like these. Product specifications and quality may vary at the manufacturer's discretion, and are beyond my influence. I cannot guarantee you will get a product that performs exactly the same as seen and described in this review. There is always room for a general discussion on the reviewed item, feel free to comment, but if you are planning to add a long review, instead of some summarizing remarks, it would be appreciated to put these in a new review topic or on your RCG blog page. And please, no affiliate links!

Note: When clicking a link that is posted in this review, some text or numbers might be added to the link, making it appear to be an affiliate link. However, all links I post in the review are clean, and this addition is done automatically by your browser and forum software, so sadly beyond my influence. If you don’t want this to happen, copy the link, then paste in an address line of a fresh browser window/tab.



For easy navigation, here's a list of contents:

1: Specifications (posting #1)
2: Unboxing (posting #1)
3: Transmitter/Preparing for 1st Flight (posting #1)
4: Flying Performance (posting #1)
5: Preliminary Verdict (posting #1)
6: Suitable for a Beginner? (posting #1)
7: Camera & FPV Performance (posting #2)
8: Additional Tuning, Modifications & Other Info (posting #2)
9: Suggestions for Improvements (posting #2)




1 - Specifications:


First, let's start with a picture and a link:




http://www.gearbest.com/brushless-fp...pp_663416.html



2 - Unboxing:

The Leader 120 comes in a simple looking box, with only a sticker revealing the contents. Inside the quad is wrapped in bubble-plastic.




Inside the box we find the quad, fully assembled, a 2S 500mAh battery, weighing 29.42 gram, and 8 spare props, with mounting screws.




The quad has a true X shape, though the rear arms are slightly shorter than the front ones. The bottom frame plate is made of 3mm CF, with slightly rounded edges, to help prevent delamination. Like the KingKong Fly Egg series, two side plates hold the camera, but instead of 7075 alu, these are made of 2mm CF.




Including battery strap, but without props and battery, the quad weighs around 62 grams, which seems light for it's size. All screws at the bottom are counter sunk, except the ones that hold the motors. So the bottom is totally smooth, on the place where the battery is going to be fitted.



3 – Transmitter/Preparing for 1st Flight:

The quad comes without receiver, so a suitable one needs to be found. There is some space on top of the flight controller, so most small receivers should fit. Since there is no manual, it's a good thing the flight controller is one that is used more often in other small FPV racers, like the Q95, by Awesome, and this picture shows where to solder the wires:




This Omnibus F3 flight controller comes with BetaFlight 3.1.5, and seems to be somewhat tuned. No flight modes are set, but the PID settings are not the usual BetaFlight defaults. A full CLI dump of the stock settings can be found attached to the second message in this thread.

To use an Sbus receiver, UART3 needs to be set to Serial RX, and then naturally on the Configuration tab, receiver type needs to be set to serial, as well as the provider, in my case sbus. I did have to change the channel order, as the setting on my transmitter didn't match the FC's settings. Added my preferred modes, angle/horizon/acro+air and set the beeper to aux2. Motors seemed to run stable at idle speed setting, and failsafe worked fine too.

Time to take it to the field, for some flying!




4 - Flying Performance:


First flight went ok, but revealed some issues. The quad felt jittery, and wanted to "wiggle upwards" when moving the sticks fast. Clearly the PIDs weren't as well tuned as it first appeared.

Leader 120 by Fullspeed - First LoS Test Flight, stock PIDs and battery (1 min 7 sec)



One landing (not captured on video) even had the quad jump up after touching down, and flipping upside down. So it was "back to the lab again..."


Since the quad has many similarities with the KingKong 110GT, props, almost the same size, fairly light, I decided to take those PIDs as reference. A short indoor test hover showed more smooth flying and landings were also less twitchy.

So back ouside again, and the quad felt much better now:

Leader 120 - Test Flight with new PID settings (1 min 25 sec)





5 - Preliminary Verdict:


On some areas, this Leader 120 is definitely at the forefront of good features. 3mm frame with rounded edges and recessed screw holes, smooth running motors, and useful features like OSD and a buzzer. And a great power to weigh ratio.

When it comes to documentation, it falls back though, you have to find out yourself how to install a receiver, and the stock settings may appear to have been tuned, but it doesn't fly amazing with this tuning. My first landing even ended in a somersault, as the quad bounced up as if stung by a bee.




Pros:

- Neatly constructed 3mm frame, with rounded edges
- FPV camera angle can be adjusted
- 8 props included, so 4 spares
- Buzzer
- OSD
- Great power, very punchy



Cons:

- No manual
- Appears to have been tuned, but stock PIDs don't work very well
- No leds, so less suitable for LoS flying




6 - Suitable for a beginner?




(to be continued)
Last edited by SoloProFan; Oct 13, 2017 at 01:22 PM.
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Aug 11, 2017, 02:51 PM
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7 - Camera & FPV Performance:

The camera is held by a 3D printed bracket, that is pivoting around 2 screws. So the camera can be set to a large range of tilt angles.

Selecting the right channel is straightforward, short press to change channel number, long press to change band. The first FPV flights were done with the new PID settings, that I applied during LoS test flights.

Here's a video, flying with these new settings:

Leader 120 - First FPV flight, new PID settings, stock battery (2 min 58 sec)




8 – Additional Tuning, Modifications & Other Info


PID Settings

As mentioned earlier, stock PIDs didn't feel very well. I tried some new settings, somewhat based upon the KingKong 110GT's settings, which has quite some similarities with this Leader 120. First impression is that these new PIDs work well in LoS and FPV.



Some have also reported good results with BetaFlight 3.2, more info to follow hopefully soon.


Runcam Micro

This small CCD camera is often used as upgrade for the standard CMOS cameras that are used on small AIO FPV cams. It's a bit of a squeeze, apparently, but it can be fitted without too much effort. More info in this message: https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show...9&postcount=77



HGL XJB F428 Elf Camera + Better VTX

Full Speed RC apparently are very aware of the range limitations of the stock VTX, and have released the TX200 VTX, offering different power settings, and easy fit on RunCam Micro Swift. This page shows how these can be installed:

http://quadifyrc.weebly.com/tips-and...nd-vtx-upgrade





9 – Suggestions for Improvements:

The Leader 120 has lots of things going for it. So hard to suggest some improvements, but there are a few things that counld have been better:

- Better camera, higher quality Cmos or CCD
- VTX with option to switch power between 25mW/100mW/200mW
Last edited by SoloProFan; Oct 28, 2017 at 03:41 PM.
Aug 13, 2017, 04:16 AM
Fan of just about anything RC
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Added unboxing pictures and info.
Aug 13, 2017, 09:36 AM
Time For Me To Fly!
fastmax's Avatar
I'm anxious to see how this one flies.
Aug 13, 2017, 09:53 AM
Registered User
Quad does not come with a receiver ? Can add some advise to your review for which FrSky receiver you recommend for this quad ? How does this quad compare to the Lizard95 with respect to speed ?
Aug 13, 2017, 12:40 PM
Fan of just about anything RC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fastmax
I'm anxious to see how this one flies.
Short summary: Easily as much power as the KingKong 110GT, but not as well tuned.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sylvestor2002
Quad does not come with a receiver ? Can add some advise to your review for which FrSky receiver you recommend for this quad ? How does this quad compare to the Lizard95 with respect to speed ?

Some good small FrSky receivers would be XM and XM+. FD800 works well for me too (not the AC800, avoid that one!!!) as well as the Tiny 8CH receiver. The FD800 gives RSSI feedback directly to Taranis. XM and XM+ can give RSSI feedback on OSD, if so configured, and flashed with the correct firmware.
Aug 13, 2017, 02:51 PM
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Added first videos, check chapter 4 for the footage.
Aug 13, 2017, 04:48 PM
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Thanks for sharing the PIDs, this looks like a very well thought out model, better balanced and featured than anything else out there PNP or BNF. Anecdotally those motors seem to be well liked.

Looking at the PIDs you posted I guess they are for 2s?
Aug 13, 2017, 05:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monkeymagicNZ
Thanks for sharing the PIDs, this looks like a very well thought out model, better balanced and featured than anything else out there PNP or BNF. Anecdotally those motors seem to be well liked.

Looking at the PIDs you posted I guess they are for 2s?

I haven't posted the new PIDs yet, the CLI dump I uploaded is just stock settings. I will make a screenshot soon, and post it here.

So far only flew on 2S, it's already crazy on that, seems like it can match quite a few others in same size running 3S.
Aug 14, 2017, 02:59 AM
Registered User
Could you fit a Runcam Micro Swift on there?
Aug 14, 2017, 04:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benz11
Could you fit a Runcam Micro Swift on there?

It can certainly lift it
Aug 14, 2017, 02:26 PM
Registered User
Reavski's Avatar
AndyRC and the Frequent Flier have both run into brownout issues when punching and/or flipping. Have you encountered anything of the sort?
Aug 14, 2017, 03:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reavski
AndyRC and the Frequent Flier have both run into brownout issues when punching and/or flipping. Have you encountered anything of the sort?

Not yet, but I've only done a single FPV flight after changing the PIDs. Voltage didn't drop very far though, lowest I got the voltage was to 6.7 volts.

I do consider changing the props to smaller ones, there is so much lift, landing is hard. About 50% of the landings on pavement it jumps up somewhat, and props scrape the pavement. So the last flight I ditched on the grass, just to be safe.

New PIDs do fly pretty well, imho. FPV video is uploading, so you can soon see if you agree or not.
Aug 14, 2017, 04:51 PM
Registered User
Reavski's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoloProFan
Not yet, but I've only done a single FPV flight after changing the PIDs. Voltage didn't drop very far though, lowest I got the voltage was to 6.7 volts.

I do consider changing the props to smaller ones, there is so much lift, landing is hard. About 50% of the landings on pavement it jumps up somewhat, and props scrape the pavement. So the last flight I ditched on the grass, just to be safe.
Not a problem for me; I like to "float and drop" using the arm switch anyway. I'm mostly concerned because, while Frequent Flier has reported these brownouts to be solvable by raising the digital idle in DSHOT (which makes sense, I've run into this), AndyRC for some reason refuses the solution and insists the problem's in the hardware. And most of the time I'd trust AndyRC over other YouTube reviewers, so...

If the brownouts are indeed just a glitch in DSHOT, this model's seriously looking fantastic. If not... Well, I guess my trigger-finger can wait for another review to be finished. Hint, hint. Nudge, nudge.
Aug 14, 2017, 05:24 PM
Fan of just about anything RC
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I think there are 2 possible issues, that are both called flip of death, but are different in nature. The issues Andy experienced, were recoverable, as soon as the voltage went up, the quad responded again. For me, that is not a true Flip of Death, which tends to involve a few motors suddenly stopping, while others keep running, and there is no escape from it, a crash is inevitable.

The first situation can be solved by making sure the voltage stays up, adding an extra BEC, capacitor over the battery terminals, smaller props, so there is lower current draw.

The second situation can be related to voltage dropping too far, but also ESC de-sync, or maybe even other causes.


Btw, just uploaded a video, flying FPV, with the new PID settings. Screenshot of these settings will be added to chapter 8 as well.


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